Binge Watchin' TV Review: Doctor Who
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Series: Doctor Who
Number of Seasons: 35 (826 episodes and one television movie to date)
What’s the show about?
Doctor Who follows the travels of the mysterious alien known only as The Doctor. Armed with a vast intellect and unending curiosity, The Doctor travels through the infinite reaches of space and time and involves himself in the lives and travails of men, women, children, robots and aliens alike. Commonly joined by a human companion, The Doctor tries to do right by those he crosses paths with...or at the very least fix the mess caused by his arrival. With the ability to regenerate upon his death, The Doctor has existed for over 900 years as he attempts to make up for past transgressions at his hands and the hands of Time Lords like him. Along the way, he learns the meaning of fear, love and the pleasure of fish fingers and custard.
Why should I watch it?
Doctor Who is one of those shows that everyone has heard of but only a fraction have actually watched. Virtually as popular as James Bond in England, Doctor Who has only recently grown a substantial fan-base. For five decades, The Doctor has been the geek alternative to Star Trek and STAR WARS for enterprising nerds who want something intelligent and different than you traditional science fiction show. The best parallale I can draw to Doctor Who would be Joss Whedon's Buffy The Vampire Slayer which shared a similar mix of humor, horror and unabashed cheese. Doctor Who is absolutely not for everyone but everyone who gives it a chance will likely find something they enjoy about it.
I myself only truly got into Doctor Who during the Matt Smith seasons, which is to say fairly recently. The 2005 reboot of the classic BBC serials continued the narrative of the first 26 seasons of the film and the poorly received FOX television movie that was meant to bring the character to North America. Starting with a lone season starring Christopher Eccleston as a more serious and gritty Doctor, the show morphed when David Tennant took over the sonic screwdriver and threw a good amount of whimsy into the part. After Tennant, the young Matt Smith portrayed a very unique take on The Doctor before handing over the mantle to the current incarnation played by the awesomely snarky Peter Capaldi. What makes Doctor Who stand out compared to other franchises with rotating stars is that the narrative remains consistent. The reboot in 2005 managed to keep everything from the previous four decades in continuity while forging ahead in a 21st century manner.
Despite high budgets for a BBC series, the special effects on Doctor Who rarely exceed those of a SyFy original movie. It may be hard to look past the poor CGI but if you do you would manage to find one of the best written series since The Twilight Zone. Because there are no limits of logic or science on the show, Doctor Who can travel to any time or place in our reality or in a parallel dimension. Alternate histories where characters try to kill Hitler are followed by some of the most terrifying villains this side of The Borg. I dare you to watch any episode featuring the Weeping Angels and not feel your skin crawl. All the while, The Doctor manages to find new friends to take on his journey, including familiar faces like Billie Piper, John Barrowman, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY star Karen Gillan. What Doctor Who lacks in budget it more than makes up for with original stories that have not repeated themselves in years. That is a feat even the longest running American series can rarely compete with.
Excluding the classic runs of the BBC series, the best modern season of Doctor Who would have to be the fifth series which introduced Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor along with long running companion Amy Pond. While fans of the modern series seem to favor David Tennant, Matt Smith imbued the character with a youthfullness that had been absent from any of his predecessor's takes on the role. Smith somehow managed to play The Doctor as an ancient and wise old man but one trapped in the body of a twenty-something hipster. Karen Gillan also brought her best to the thankless job of the human who has to keep The Doctor from destroying our world or one of countless others in the universe. This season also introduced the aforementioned Weeping Angels in the episode "Blink" featuring a young Carey Mulligan.
Doctor Who may seem like a challenging show to get into, but the 2005 debut managed to allow audiences an entry point into the mythology that did not require previous knowledge of the character. Russel T. Davies and current showrunner Steven Moffat have managed to introduce references and callbacks to characrers from the hundreds of preceding episodes which allows viewers a chance to research and learn all about this established fictional universe while others can just enjoy the show for what it is. I would highly recommend tuning into the reruns often aired on PBS or BBC America as the episodes work just as well as standalone hours while working like a serial drama if you binge watch it. I have yet to meet someone who hasn't tried at least a handful of episodes of Doctor Who and not wanted to go back for more. With such a vast catalog to pull from, I think this could be your next multi night binge obsession.